ASH comment on BTS study showing hospitals’ failure to tackle smoking

07 December 2016.  A report released today by the British Thoracic Society (BTS) shows that most hospitals across the UK are not doing enough to support smokers to stop smoking.

Despite the fact that a quarter of patients were recorded as being current smokers, 72% of these patients were not asked if they wanted help to quit, the report found.  Over a quarter (27%) of hospital patients were not even asked if they smoke.  [1]

Commenting on the findings, Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“Every year thousands of people across the UK are admitted to hospital to be treated for diseases such as heart disease, cancer and respiratory disorders caused by smoking.  Given the scale of the harm caused by smoking it’s shocking that more is not being done in hospitals to support patients to quit.  Smokers’ admission to hospital provides an ideal opportunity to help them quit and stopping smoking should be seen as an essential part of a patient’s treatment.  

 “What is clear from the BTS report is that there is a lack of clinical leadership to implement and monitor best practice.  Helping people to stop smoking while in hospital will reduce re-admission rates and associated costs to the NHS.”   

 The report also reveals that only 1 in 16 hospitals completely enforce smokefree grounds, and staff are not being given adequate training in smoking cessation.

ASH supports the BTS’s recommendations including offering nicotine replacement therapy to all patients who smoke and implementing NICE guidance which includes employing stop smoking practitioners in every hospital.


Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see:

ASH receives core funding from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

[1] “Smoking cessation: policy and practice in NHS hospitals” British Thoracic Society, Dec. 2016

For more information contact: tel 020 7831 8778 or 07566 223644

[2]  NICE Guidance – Smoking: acute, maternity and mental health services. Public health guideline PH48.

Summary of NICE guidance:

  • Strong leadership and management to ensure premises remain smokefree.
  • All hospitals have an on-site stop smoking service.
  • Identifying people who smoke, offering advice and support to stop.
  • Providing intensive behavioural support and pharmacotherapy as an integral component of secondary care.
  • Integrating stop smoking support in secondary care with support provided by community-based services.
  • Ensuring staff are trained to support people to stop smoking while using secondary care services.
  • Supporting staff to stop smoking or to abstain while at work.
  • Ensuring there are no designated smoking areas or staff-facilitated smoking breaks for anyone using secondary care services.

Contact:   Deborah Arnott 020 7404 0242 (w) or 07976 935 987 (m)